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Exhibits at Agricultural Shows

British Association for the Advancement of Science

World's Forestry Congress, Rome

Census of British Woodlands
Consultative Committees

Forest Workers' Holdings

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Total Employment in the Commission's Forests

Appendix.-Imports of Timber, Wood Manufactures and Pulp

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SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT

of the

FORESTRY COMMISSIONERS.

Year ending September 30th, 1926.

FOREST POLICY.

There has been no interruption in policy during the year and the programme has been carried out in its essentials. This report covers the seventh year of the Commissioners' planting operations and the eighth is now approaching completion. Since the Forestry Act, 1919, makes financial provision only for the 10-year period ending March 31st, 1929, new legislation should be passed in the early part of 1928 so that the Commissioners may have at least a year in which to adjust their plans to such alterations in general policy and planting programmes as may be decided on. It will be recalled that the present policy and programme were drawn up in 1916-17. At that time the heavy war fellings in the home woods were just beginning, and the full effect on the timber resources of the country could not be foretold; there was no organised State forest service and the opportunities for collecting accurate data on which to build a workable scheme were very limited. In spite of these difficulties the original estimates of costs are working out well, and if allowance be made for certain work, such as forest workers' holdings, which is additional to the original programme, the net expenditure over the whole 10-year period should not differ from the estimated figure by more than 5 per cent.

Besides building up an organisation to carry out their expanding planting programme the Commissioners have kept steadily in view the necessity of basing forest policy on ascertained facts and figures. Two main problems are involved. There is first the supply of timber from overseas and secondly the home supply and the possibilities of increasing it. The forest policy of Great Britain, which is at present the largest timber-importing country, cannot rightly be divorced from the world position. Wood and timber, and particularly coniferous timber, in some form or other are essential to industrial progress, and the intensity of British forest policy should conform to the world outlook as regards supply and demand. It is not proposed to enter into a detailed discussion of this subject and it must suffice to say that the outlook is not satisfactory. In those countries where industrial development has been greatest, such as in North America, consumption has increased while resources are being exhausted at an unprecedented rate.

The second problem, the home supply, has been systematically studied. A number of factors are involved. The area and character of the uncultivated land (chiefly rough grazings) of the country and the rate at which trees of different kinds will

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grow on land of different types limit the extent to which supplies may be increased by afforestation. The area and state of the existing woods indicate the probabilities for the more immediate future and also in part the possibilities for increased supply in the more remote future.

Although a great deal of data has been collected and many experiments have been started, many years must elapse before it will be possible to state definitely whether certain kinds of land, including some types of peat, can be economically afforested. On the other hand, results already available show that by suitable planting methods large areas formerly considered unplantable may now be afforested with success. But apart from the difficult land there exist in this country extensive uncultivated areas, aggregating perhaps 3 to 4 million acres, admirably suited for timber production. This land is not waste, but its production is so low that its afforestation would not appreciably affect the national food supplies.

During the year under review the preliminary results have come to hand of a census of woodlands, inaugurated by the Commissioners. The summary figures, which provide for the first time an accurate picture of the woodlands of this country, are stated in the table below. The woodlands are divided into two main categories :

I.-Economic, or potentially productive, that is woods which are now being maintained, or have at some time been maintained, with the object of producing timber for commercial purposes.

II.-Uneconomic, that is woods which are being maintained with some object other than timber production for commercial purposes.

Census of Woodlands, 1924.

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105,020

Acres. Acres. Acres. Acres. Acres. Acres. 98,030 153,940 244,520 70,330

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II. Uneconomic (including amenity woods, shelter-belts, park timber etc). 204,290

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Broadly the census figures disclose a much more unsatisfactory state of affairs than was counted on in 1916-17 when the present policy and programme were drawn up. The salient points are as follows:

(1) Productive and Non-productive Woodlands. Of the total area of 2,958,630 acres of woodland less than half (1,416,870 acres of high forest) is reasonably productive; of the rest, 808,800 acres of felled woods and scrub are, from the forestry point of view, idle land, 528,670 acres of coppice and coppice-withstandards have a very low average productivity, while 204,290 acres of amenity and similar woodlands are definitely uneconomic in the sense that they are outside the scope of commercial forestry.

(2) Pre-war and Post-war Reserves of Timber.-At the outbreak of war there existed, fortunately, a large excess (compared with a normal distribution of age classes) of old timber, both conifers and oak. At a rough estimate 450,000 to 500,000 acres, mainly conifers, were felled during and immediately after the

war.

Conifers. The immediate outlook is serious. There remain 70,330 acres of conifers and 77,180 acres of indifferent mixed woods over 80 years (equivalent to about 9 months' consumption of saw timber) which so far as it is accessible will probably be felled during the next few years. The coniferous woods (244,520 acres) and the mixed woods (134,410 acres) now 41-80 years old, which would normally replace the pre-war reserve, are being felled for revenue. Behind them again there are only 153,940 acres of conifers and 63,430 acres of mixed woods 21-40 years old. It is a fair assumption on these figures that the position as regards reserves of standing coniferous timber will steadily grow worse until the post-war plantings begin to become effective.

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Hardwoods. While there is at present a large supply of second and third class hardwoods (chiefly oak) in the country the outlook for a sustained supply of good oak is very bad. Oak planting has now almost ceased and this, combined with failure. over the last 40 years to plant on anything approaching an adequate scale, means that ultimately the supply of mature oak on a commercial scale must cease. The existing large area of oak over 80 years (208,230 acres) will gradually be felled for revenue and if regenerated at all will be replanted with conifers.

(3) Rate of Reconstruction.-Private planting has averaged over the last 40 years about 12,000 acres per annum, and at the commencement of the census was still proceeding at approximately that rate. The State is planting 22,500 acres during the current season and aims at working up to 30,000 acres in 1929.

Private planting, at best, will not do more than cope with current fellings. This is an optimistic forecast. It is more probable that with the continued high taxation and the break-up of estates, fellings will greatly exceed replantings. A State programme of 30,000 acres per annum would plant up the exist-.

ing felled area (478,100 acres), or an equivalent area, in 16 years and the combined felled area and scrub (808,800 acres), or their equivalent area, in 27 years. If only half the coppice and coppice-with-standards were included as well the period would be prolonged to 36 years.

The Forestry Sub-Committee in their calculations of 1916-17 assumed that the 3,000,000 acres of existing woodlands would be maintained in a productive state and proposed to add 1,770,000 acres of new forest. It can be confidently predicted that unless State planting is speeded up to a rate exceeding 30,000 acres per annum there will not be 3,000,000 acres of productive forest in the country before 1955.

In connection with forest policy there is one other important factor which has to be considered, namely, the provision of forest workers' holdings in connection with forestry operations. The extent to which afforestation may be economically employed in relief of temporary unemployment is strictly limited. On the other hand the policy of establishing forest workers in small permanent holdings in or close to the forest has much to commend it.

The policy adopted by the Commissioners is largely a housing scheme for the benefit and accommodation of employees. It differs from the agricultural small holdings policy in that it does not attempt to provide "full time" holdings but treats them as ancillary to employment in the forest. This combination of assured work and occupation of land presents certain definite advantages both to the forest and the worker. For the worker it provides certain employment avoiding an entire dependence on a money wage, it gives the man some opportunity of improving his position. by his own independent efforts and, at the same tin e, lessens the risk and the exceptionally hard labour inseparable from the occupation of the full-time holding; 150 days' employment is guaranteed in each year, mainly in the winter months, the pressing time in planting operations, leaving the worker free to work his land in the summer and to take advantage of other employment so other employment so often available during hay and corn harvest. The scheme is one of small scale holdings only, the maximum area being 10 acres, but the smaller holdings are in the greater demand; market gardening is the main object in view with poultry and pigs in addition; fruit trees are raised in the forest nurseries for distribution. In the larger holdings accommodation is given for one or two cows and a small dairying business is frequently carried on.

The Commissioners have now had nearly three years' experience of this form of rural settlement and it appears to them that it possesses very distinctive merits and might be speeded up if so desired.

Summary. The above are some of the chief considerations which have to be borne in mind in laying down the future forest policy of Great Britain. Briefly, as regards supplies of an essen

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